Frightened… but keeping going
Have you ever felt depressed, disappointed about yourself, frightened of your coming days and wanted to give up? If you have, please allow me to share with you my personal experience that has helped me keep going relatively at peace.
Dear friend, it happened a few years ago. At that time, I was helping a remote parish in New York state. Life quietly went on with different events as usual: joy and sorrow, enthusiasm and indifference, laugh and tear, sanctity and sinfulness, hope and disappointment, etc…. Then one day, when assisting the priest during Mass, I suddenly had a very frightening feeling. Actually, this feeling was not totally new to me since it had appeared sometimes before. However, it showed itself to me very clearly and aggressively this time. I looked at the priest who was praying the Holy Eucharistic prayer with bread and wine in his hands. Then I looked at the congregation who was paying attention to what was going on at the altar. Suddenly, there was a loud voice in my head, saying: “One day, you will be standing there as a priest. Who are you? An imperfect and a sinful man! Will you dare to hold that bread and wine in your dirty hands? Do you think you are worthy? Won’t you lose you peace and feel very bad when doing that? Many will look at you. What will they think about you if they know you are not that good? Don’t be stupid to put a rope around your neck! …” Oh my, I was so frightened. It was absolutely true that these celebrations were sacred while I was bad and sinful. So terrible did I feel! OK, perhaps it would be better and ‘safer’ to withdraw as soon as possible…
I looked at the priest and the congregation again, the fear in me terribly increased. But just at the moment when I was about to decide to quit my way of life, I heard a gentle voice in my trouble heart: “Viet, your mission is greater than your sin. I am here with you, don’t be afraid.”
Dear friend, I have gained back my peace and continued my mission up to this day although my life still has ups and downs in this human journey. I have also realised one thing: my brokenness can become a very good instrument for me to confidently proclaim the unconditional love of Jesus, which is the radical Good News for many brothers and sisters when they encounter brokenness and suffering in their lives.
Thank you for your listening to my real story. If you also have an experience to share, please give others including myself the pleasure of benefiting from it. Thank you!
Joseph Viet, O.Carm.